Former Brexit secretary wants MPs to be tested daily to end social distancing

PUBLISHED: 10:38 09 June 2020 | UPDATED: 10:43 09 June 2020

David Davis speaks in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

David Davis speaks in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

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Former Brexit secretary wants MPs to be tested daily for coronavirus to put an end to social distancing measures in the House of Commons.

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Davis was one of the MPs to criticise the procedures brought in by Jacob Rees-Mogg and the government to keep the Commons running during the pandemic.

He suggested that if Vienna Airport in Austria is able to turn around Covid-19 tests in two or three hours, then parliament could similarly set up testing infrastructure to ensure MPs are not ill before they enter the chamber.

Davis told MPs: “Every morning, between 8 and 9.30am - and it might be that we don’t start until 12.30pm - every single person who comes into this chamber can be tested.

“Then we don’t need the two-metre rule anymore and we can suddenly have back the Parliament that was and is the envy of the world.”

He added: “We currently have, it is said, according to government numbers, a surplus of 80,000 tests a day. So we are not short of tests anymore.”

Davis also criticised what he said was a lack of scrutiny of the government by MPs because of the social distancing measures.

He said: “The fact is this House has no life. It does not challenge ministers properly.

“It must be the easiest thing in the world - I’ve done it a few times now - to come to this despatch box and deal with this House as it currently stands.


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“A large part of that arises because of the two-metre rule and the fact we can only have 50 people in the chamber.

“The atmosphere, the drive, the ferocity, the mood of the House, just doesn’t exist.”

Davis added: “The operation of democracy today, as we observe it in this House, is more enfeebled than I’ve seen it in 33 years here.

“And frankly that is a tragedy and that is a tragedy of the government’s making and one we need to fix as soon as possible.”

Davis added: “Democracy is critical to good governance and that is not what we are seeing here today.”

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